Imagine a world where all you have to know are the questions you want to ask to your data. Sound like sci-fi? Well, as BI advances its technology, you should get ready for your reality to be debunked. Yes, powerful BI solutions have made crunching big data sets a reality, but true data analytics for non-techies has only recently become a possibility. That’s because the problem is that BI tools are either too complicated for business users to use, or the core technology of the BI product is not built to scale to a large number of users, dashboards, or queries without getting slow. But everything is starting to change.

The Non-Technical Revolution

Along with addressing growing data volumes and data set complexity, BI tools have started to connect the dots and bring a top-notch user experience into the equation, allowing non-technical users to truly practice business intelligence–and it’s paying off. In fact, A.T. Kearney-Carnegie Mellon’s recent LEAP study determined that businesses getting the most value out of data analytics have leaders that concentrate on: team collaboration enabled by the ability to easily share insights, instilling confidence in their teams, and creating an active analytics community across all departments.

Historically, Business Users Were Never Truly Independent

So what is closing the gap between the research scientists and the business people? The answer lies in the history and current state of BI. Businesses usually hire a technical team (IT ) in order to manage access to company data, even though this method limits the freedom of business users. For example, a marketing manager that wants to a report that combines Salesforce data and Google Analytics data, needs to put in a request to the IT team, who has access to the data, and then wait for IT to get to the task.

The problem exacerbates: Once IT provides the report, if marketing wants to drill down, filter, or add more data in order to investigate further and gain a different perspective, they have to send the report back to IT and wait for results. No on-the-fly insights here.

As you can guess, the more departments requesting data reports, the more likely your IT team will become a bottleneck. Plus, you run the risk of having the information in reports become irrelevant by they time they reach the department at all.

The Problem That Broke the Camel’s Back: Flexibility

After recognizing the problems that arise from forcing business users to depend on IT, many businesses ask the question: so what do business users actually need? And the answer is quite simple: business users don’t know what they need.

This revelation pinpoints a precise need and the biggest problem technologies must deal with today: Flexibility. Business users need to be able to investigate data further by adding more data, changing data and playing with the filters on a BI dashboard to discover underlying trends and correlations. BI tools that can address the issue of changing requirements with flexibility, scalability and intuitive data exploration tools, holds the key to bringing data to the people.

Big, Scattered Data Just Rubs Salt in the Wound

In the 21st century, digital information is being created, analyzed, and stored at such a fast rate it is reported that 90% of the world’s data has been produced in just the last two years. This has become another challenge facing BI companies today: finding a solution to handle big data sets that are increasingly decentralize, all while keeping data manageable to the business users.

Big data is commonly characterized by the three Vs– volume, velocity, and variety. Business intelligence tools have different ways of addresses these problems, some with new technology to maximize storage and processes to accommodate data size and speed, such as In-Chip Technology, while other tools opt to compromise business user capabilities by continuing to require IT involvement for certain processes.

How BI Tools Are Addressing the Business User

Many BI tools are trying to meet the needs of business users by providing complete self-service in BI to give independence to any user to ask any question, and simultaneously relieving the technical departments of being the middleman.

The combination of an intuitive user experience together with powerful data crunching technology allows the average business user to access and analyze large, unstructured data, and conduct data analytics. Self-service, flexibility, and business friendly user experience should be at the the top of your list when searching for a BI tool that will be a game changer in your organization.

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